Use the Force, Ellie Mae

Every summer I take a Weight Watchers cookbook and beat myself over the head with it.

Why, I groan, didn’t I exercise all year? Then at least I could be half as buff as my cousin, a former track star. When that gal drops her towel at the beach, nobody ever runs off screaming.

But this summer the cookbook stays shelved, because last New Year’s Day I told my neighbor Rita about my resolution to get in shape.

“Great!” said Rita. “We’ll work out together.”

I failed to tell Rita I make this resolution every year. I always work out for a few weeks… and then quit before January does. Working out with Rita meant I probably couldn’t quit until Valentine’s.

But Rita was resolved and so was I. (How was I to know that when some people make New Year’s Resolutions, they actually keep them?)

In the name of said resolutions, Rita has dragged me through horrific torture sessions (otherwise known as video workouts) in which we do god-awful things like hold weights on our shoulders while we climb up and down on 14-inch steps.

Yeah, it’s tough. But my jeans are loose and I’ve raised a few muscles. Heck, slather a little self-tanner on me and maybe I could drop my towel at the beach without scaring anybody. Then again, maybe not.

Either way, I have to admit that my Body by Rita came in handy the day before our last camping trip.

My husband usually loads our van roof rack. But he had to work late and I thought I’d help him out. So I put a chair next to the van and picked up a box of camp gear. Placing my foot on the chair, I hoisted the box to my shoulder… and stopped dead, because that dang thing was heavy.

I was about to give up and wait for Hubby when I noticed I was in the start position of the killer stepping exercise. So I stepped.

The box SAILED over the Caravan.

Now let me just say that blasting the Death Star couldn’t have given Luke any more pleasure than I got using the Force for the first time.

Two hours later Hubby found me in front of our van. “Hi,” I said brightly. “We’re all packed!”

Eyes wide, he surveyed my work. All three cargo boxes of camping gear were on the roof rack.

So was our tent, four folding chairs, two chaise lounges, a camp table and sun umbrella, an awning, the badminton and bocce ball sets, three boxes of food, four duffel bags, four sleeping bags and four bikes.

The bikes had been a bit of a challenge but I pretended they were wobbly barbells.

“Look at all the room inside the van!” I gushed, waving my hand like they do on game shows.

“We look like the Beverly Hillbillies,” he protested.

“Hee, hee! I’ll be Ellie Mae and you be Jethro.”

Hubby gestured at the loaded van. “YOU can be Jethro.”

The next morning the Caravan barely slowed to a park before I hopped out and raced over to my cousin’s campsite. I felt my budding muscles gave us something new in common to discuss.

“Hey!” I greeted her. “I’ve been working out.”


“Yep,” I sniffed modestly, flexing my biceps. “Loaded that Caravan all by myself.”

Cal Poly’s Star Athlete of 1984 looked me over like I was a javelin the size of a walrus.

“You’re kidding, right?”

“Yeah,” I said, deflating quickly. “I’m kidding.”

Feeling the Force leave me as fast as its little Yoda legs could carry it, I scurried back to help Hubby unload the Caravan.

Should’ve packed that Weight Watchers cookbook on the roof rack, too.

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